Finally, the pressure campaign worked.
On Thursday, Weiner announced his resignation in his district in Brooklyn. As a heckler shouted insults from the back, Weiner said he was leaving because of “the distraction that I have created.”
“I am here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused,” Weiner said, reading from a statement at the senior center where he had announced previous campaigns for the City Council and Congress.
His departure leaves an empty seat in Washington and a debate in New York about whether the district should be eliminated altogether as part of the redistricting process. For his party, his departure allows Democrats to return to their campaign against Republican plans to overhaul Medicare.
And it signals the limits of the fire-breathing model Weiner used to stand out in a crowded political world. After a career playing to an audience beyond the halls of Congress, it seemed that his departure would have little impact on the body he left.
“That’s an inside story,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said about the Weiner escapade. “That’s not what I’m hearing about at home. It’s not what our candidates are hearing.”
Weiner’s undoing began three weeks ago, when he posted a photo of his underwear-clad groin on his public Twitter feed. He at first blamed the photo on a “hacker,” but then confessed after more photos appeared, all showing Weiner posing suggestively for women he had met online.
Ultimately devastating for him, Weiner’s mistake also came at an inopportune time for his party. Democrats had just won a special election in New York — ironically, set off by another congressman who had sent a suggestive photo to someone he met online — and wanted to continue hammering the message that Republicans wanted to “destroy” Medicare.
Lawmakers and aides said the most damning thing Weiner did was telling the tale about an alleged hacker: He lied, day after day, to his friends in Congress and to a national TV audience.
Had he admitted fault right away, “I think it would have helped him with his colleagues,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), a close friend of Weiner’s. “I think that it could have ended differently.”
Last week, after his confession, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke almost every day with Weiner, as had Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Both, aides said, were steadily trying to “get him to the place” where he would announce his retirement on his own.